Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

The Kristoffersen ruling: the EFTA Court targets athlete endorsement deals - By Sven Demeulemeester and Niels Verborgh

Editor’s note: Sven Demeulemeester and Niels Verborgh are sports lawyers at the Belgium law firm, Altius.

 

Introduction

In its 16 November 2018 judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States (the EFTA Court) delivered its eagerly awaited ruling in the case involving Henrik Kristoffersen and the Norwegian Ski Federation (NSF). 

On 17 October 2016, Kristoffersen had taken the NSF to the Oslo District Court over the latter’s refusal to let the renowned alpine skier enter into a sponsorship with Red Bull. At stake were the commercial markings on his helmet and headgear in races organised under the NSF’s umbrella. The NSF refused this sponsorship because it had already granted the advertising on helmet and headgear to its own main sponsor, Telenor. Kristoffersen claimed before the Oslo District Court, that the NSF should be ordered to permit him to enter into an individual marketing contract with Red Bull. In the alternative, Kristoffersen claimed damages up to a maximum of NOK 15 million. By a letter of 25 September 2017, the Oslo District Court referred several legal questions to the EFTA Court in view of shedding light on the compatibility of the rules that the NSF had invoked with EEA law.

If rules do not relate to the conduct of the sport itself, but concern sponsorship rights and hence an economic activity, these rules are subject to EEA law. The EFTA Court ruling is important in that it sets out the framework for dealing with - ever more frequent - cases in which an individual athlete’s endorsement deals conflict with the interest of the national or international sports governing bodies (SGBs) that he or she represents in international competitions.More...


Season 2 of football leaks: A review of the first episodes

Season 2 of #FootballLeaks is now underway since more than a week and already a significant number of episodes (all the articles published can be found on the European Investigative Collaborations’ website) covering various aspect of the (lack of) transnational regulation of football have been released (a short German documentary sums up pretty much the state of play). For me, as a legal scholar, this new series of revelations is an exciting opportunity to discuss in much more detail than usual various questions related to the operation of the transnational private regulations of football imposed by FIFA and UEFA (as we already did during the initial football leaks with our series of blogs on TPO in 2015/2016). Much of what has been unveiled was known or suspected by many, but the scope and precision of the documents published makes a difference. At last, the general public, as well as academics, can have certainty about the nature of various shady practices in the world of football. One key characteristic that explains the lack of information usually available is that football, like many international sports, is actually governed by private administrations (formally Swiss associations), which are not subject to the similar obligations in terms of transparency than public ones (e.g. access to document rules, systematic publication of decisions, etc.). In other words, it’s a total black box! The football leaks are offering a rare sneak peak into that box.

Based on what I have read so far (this blog was written on Friday 9 November), there are three main aspects I find worthy of discussion:

  • The (lack of) enforcement of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations
  • The European Super League project and EU competition law
  • The (lack of) separation of powers inside FIFA and UEFA More...

Supporters of the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018: Altius

Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very happy to finish this series of interviews with Sven Demeulemeester from Altius, a Belgian law firm based in Brussels with a very fine (and academically-minded!) sports law team. 


1. Can you explain to our readers the work of Altius in international sports law? 

Across different sports’ sectors, Altius’ sports law practice advises and assists some of the world’s most high-profile sports governing bodies, clubs and athletes, at both the national and the international level. The team has 6 fully-dedicated sports lawyers and adopts a multi-disciplinary approach, which guarantees a broad range of legal expertise for handling specific cases or wider issues related to the sports industry. We are proud to be independent but, in cross-border matters, are able to tap into a worldwide network.

2. How is it to be an international sports lawyer? What are the advantages and challenges of the job? 

Sports law goes beyond one specific field of law. The multiplicity of legal angles keeps the work interesting, even after years of practising, and ensures that a sports lawyer rarely has a dull moment. The main downside is that the sports industry is fairly conservative and sometimes ‘political’. While the law is one thing, what happens in practice is often another. Bringing about change is not always easy. 

3. What are the burning issues in international sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference? 

 The much-anticipated overhaul of the football transfer system is eagerly anticipated and is worth a thorough debate, also in terms of possible, viable alternatives. The impact of EU law - both internal market rules, competition law and fundamental rights – can hardly be underestimated. Also, dispute resolution mechanisms within the realm of sports - and an accessible, transparent, independent and impartial sports arbitration in particular - will remain a ‘hot’ topic in the sector for years to come. Furthermore, ethics and integrity issues should remain top of the agenda, as is being demonstrated by the current money-laundering and match-fixing allegations in Belgium. Finally, in a sector in which the use of data is rife, the newly-adopted GDPR’s impact remains somewhat ‘under the radar’.

4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference? 

The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference is refreshing, both in terms of its topics and participants. The academic and content-driven approach is a welcome addition to other sports law conferences in which the networking aspect often predominates.

Supporters of the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018: LawInSport

Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very happy to continue this series of interviews with LawInSport, a knowledge hub and educational platform for the community of people working in or with an interest in sport and the law  (many thanks to LawInSport's CEO Sean Cottrell for kindly responding to our questions).


1. Can you explain to our readers what LawInSport is about?

LawInSport is a knowledge hub, educational platform and global community of people working in or with an interest in sport and the law.

Our objective is to help people ‘understand the rules of the game™’. What does this mean? It means people in sport having access to information that enables them to have a better understanding the rules and regulations that govern the relationships, behaviours and processes within sports. This in turn creates a foundation based on the principles of the rule of law, protecting the rights of everyone working and participating in sport.  

2. What are the challenges and perks of being an international sports law 'reporter’ ?

I do not consider myself a reporter, but as the head of an organisation that has a responsibility to provide the highest quality information on legal issues in sport,  focusing on what is important and not just what is popular, whilst trying to stay free from conflicts of interests. These two issues, popularism and conflict of interest, are the two of the biggest challenges.

Popularism and the drive to win attention is, in my opinion, causing a lack of discipline when it comes to factual and legal accuracy in coverage of sports law issues, which on their own may seem harmless, but can cause harm to organisations and individuals (athletes, employees, etc).

Conflict of interest will obviously arise in such a small sector, however, there is not a commonly agreed standard in internationally, let alone in sports law. Therefore, one needs to be diligent when consuming information to understand why someone may or may not hold a point of view, if they have paid to get it published or has someone paid them to write it. For this reason it can be hard to get a full picture of what is happening in the sector.

In terms of perks, I get to do something that is both challenging and rewarding on a daily basis, and as  a business owner I have the additional benefit of work with colleagues I enjoy working with. I have the privilege of meeting world leaders in their respective fields (law, sport, business, science, education, etc) and gain insights from them about their work and life experiences which is incredibly enriching.  Getting access to speak to the people who are on the front line, either athletes, coaches, lawyers, scientists, rather than from a third party is great as it gives you an unfiltered insight into what is going on.

On the other side of things, we get the opportunity to help people through either having a better understand of the legal and regulatory issues in sports or to understand how to progress themselves towards their goals academically and professionally is probably the most rewarding part of my work. 

3. What are the burning issues in international sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference?

  • The long-term implications of human rights law in sport;
  • The importance of meaningful of stakeholder consultation in the creation and drafting of regulations in sport;
  • Effective international safeguarding in sport.

4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference?

We support ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference as it is a non-profit conference that’s purpose is to create a space to explore a wide range of legal issues in sport. The conference is an academic conference that does a great job in bringing a diverse range of speakers and delegates. The discussions and debates that take place will benefit the wider sports law community.  Therefore, as LawInSport’s objective is focused on education it was a straight forward decision to support the conferences as it is aligned with our objectives. 

Supporters of the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018: Women in Sports Law

Editor's note: In the coming days we will introduce the supporters of our upcoming ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference 2018 (also known as #ISLJConf18). To do so, we have sent them a tailored questionnaire aimed at reflecting both their activities and their expectations for the conference. It is a good opportunity for us to thank them for their enthusiastic support and commitment to international sports law research. We are very proud to start this series of interviews with Women in Sports Law, an association launched in 2016 and which has already done so much to promote and advance the role of women in international sports law (many thanks to Despina Mavromati for kindly responding to our questions on behalf of WISLaw).


1. Can you explain to our readers what WISLaw is about?

Women In Sports Law (WISLaw, www.wislaw.co) is an international association based in Lausanne that unites more than 300 women from 50 countries specializing in sports law. It is a professional network that aims at increasing the visibility of women working in the sector, through a detailed members’ directory and various small-scale talks and events held in different countries around the world. These small-scale events give the opportunity to include everyone in the discussion and enhance the members’ network. Men from the sector and numerous arbitral institutions, conference organizers and universities have come to actively support our initiative.


2. What are the challenges and opportunities for women getting involved in international sports law?

Women used to be invisible in this sector. All-male panels were typical at conferences and nobody seemed to notice this flagrant lack of diversity. WISLaw created this much-needed platform to increase visibility through the members’ directory and through a series of small-scale events where all members, independent of their status or seniority, can attend and be speakers.

Another difficulty is that European football (soccer) is traditionally considered to be a “male-dominated” sport, despite the fact that there are so many great female football teams around the world. The same misperception applies to sports lawyers!

Last, there is a huge number of women lawyers working as in-house counsel and as sports administrators. There is a glass ceiling for many of those women, and the WISLaw annual evaluation of the participation of women in those positions attempts to target their issues and shed more light into this specific problem.


3. What are the burning issues in international sports law that you would like to see discussed at the conference?

The ISLJ Annual Conference has already set up a great lineup of topics combining academic and more practical discussions in the most recent issues in international sports law. 


4. Why did you decide to support the ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference?

The Asser International Sports Law Centre has promoted and supported WISLaw since the very beginning. The ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference was the first big conference to officially include a WISLaw lunch talk in its program, allowing thus the conference attendees to be part of a wider informal discussion on a specific topical issue and raise their questions with respect to WISLaw. Another important reason why WISLaw supports this conference is because the conference organizers are making sincere efforts to have increased diversity in the panels : this year’s ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference is probably the first sports law conference to come close to a full gender balance in its panels, with 40% of the speakers being women !

The proportionality test under Art. 101 (1) TFEU and the legitimacy of UEFA Financial fair-play regulations: From the Meca Medina and Majcen ruling of the European Court of Justice to the Galatasaray and AC Milan awards of the Court of Arbitration for Sport – By Stefano Bastianon

Editor’s note: Stefano Bastianon is Associate Professor in EU Law and EU sports law at the University of Bergamo and lawyer admitted to the Busto Arsizio bar. He is also member of the IVth Division of the High Court of Sport Justice (Collegio di Garanzia dello sport) at the National Olympic Committee.

 

1. On the 20th July 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (hereinafter referred to as “CAS”) issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between AC Milan and UEFA. The subject matter of this arbitration procedure was the appeal filed by AC Milan against the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Financial Control Body dated 19th June 2018 (hereinafter referred to as “the contested decision”). As many likely know, the CAS has acknowledged that, although AC Milan was in breach of the break-even requirement, the related exclusion of the club from the UEFA Europe League was not proportionate. To date, it is the first time the CAS clearly ruled that the sanction of exclusion from UEFA club competitions for a breach of the break-even requirement was not proportionate. For this reason the CAS award represents a good opportunity to reflect on the proportionality test under Art. 101 TFEU and the relationship between the landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (hereinafter referred to as “ECJ”) in the Meca Medina and Majcen affair and the very recent case-law of the CAS. More...

The “Victory” of the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the European Court of Human Rights: The End of the Beginning for the CAS

My favourite speed skater (Full disclosure: I have a thing for speed skaters bothering the ISU), Claudia Pechstein, is back in the news! And not from the place I expected. While all my attention was absorbed by the Bundesverfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe (BVerfG or German Constitutional Court), I should have looked to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR). The Pechstein and Mutu joint cases were pending for a long time (since 2010) and I did not anticipate that the ECtHR would render its decision before the BVerfG. The decision released last week (only available in French at this stage) looked at first like a renewed vindication of the CAS (similar to the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) ruling in the Pechstein case), and is being presented like that by the CAS, but after careful reading of the judgment I believe this is rather a pyrrhic victory for the status quo at the CAS. As I will show, this ruling puts to rest an important debate surrounding CAS arbitration since 20 years: CAS arbitration is (at least in its much-used appeal format in disciplinary cases) forced arbitration. Furthermore, stemming from this important acknowledgment is the recognition that CAS proceedings must comply with Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), in particular hearings must in principle be held in public and decisions freely available to all. Finally, I will criticise the Court’s finding that CAS complies with the requirements of independence and impartiality imposed by Article 6 § 1 ECHR. I will not rehash the  well-known facts of both cases, in order to focus on the core findings of the decision. More...

ISLJ International Sports Law Conference 2018 - Asser Institute - 25-26 October - Register Now!

Dear all,

Last year we decided to launch the 'ISLJ Annual International Sports Law Conference' in order to give a public platform to the academic discussions on international sports law featured in the ISLJ. The first edition of the conference was a great success (don't take my word for it, just check out #ISLJConf17 on twitter), featuring outstanding speakers and lively discussions with the room. We were very happy to see people from some many different parts of the world congregating at the Institute to discuss the burning issues of their field of practice and research.

This year, on 25 and 26 October, we are hosting the second edition and we are again welcoming well-known academics and practitioners in the field. The discussions will turn around the notion of lex sportiva, the role of Swiss law in international sports law, the latest ISU decision of the European Commission, the Mutu/Pechstein ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, or the reform proposal of the FIFA Regulations on the Transfer and Status of Players. It should be, it will be, an exciting two days!

You will find below the final programme of the conference, please feel free to circulate it within your networks. We have still some seats left, so don't hesitate to register (here) and to join us.

Looking forward to seeing you and meeting you there!

Antoine

Football Intermediaries: Would a European centralized licensing system be a sustainable solution? - By Panagiotis Roumeliotis

Editor's note: Panagiotis Roumeliotis holds an LL.B. degree from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece and an LL.M. degree in European and International Tax Law from University of Luxembourg. He is qualified lawyer in Greece and is presently working as tax advisor with KPMG Luxembourg while pursuing, concomitantly, an LL.M. in International Sports Law at Sheffield Hallam University, England. His interest lies in the realm of tax and sports law. He may be contacted by e-mail at ‘p.roumeliotis@hotmail.com’.


Introduction

The landmark Bosman Ruling triggered the Europeanization of the labour market for football players by banning nationality quotas. In turn, in conjunction with the boom in TV revenues, this led to a flourishing transfer market in which players’ agents or intermediaries play a pivotal role, despite having a controversial reputation.

As a preliminary remark, it is important to touch upon the fiduciary duty of sports agents towards their clients. The principal-agent relationship implies that the former employs the agent so as to secure the best employment and/or commercial opportunities. Conversely, the latter is expected to act in the interest of the player as their relationship should be predicated on trust and confidence, as much was made clear in the English Court of Appeal case of Imageview Management Ltd v. Kelvin Jack. Notably, agents are bound to exercise the utmost degree of good faith, honesty and loyalty towards the players.[1]

At the core of this blog lies a comparative case study of the implementation of the FIFA Regulations on working with intermediaries (hereinafter “FIFA RWI”) in eight European FAs covering most of the transfers during the mercato. I will then critically analyze the issues raised by the implementation of the RWI and, as a conclusion, offer some recommendations. More...



Seraing vs. FIFA: Why the rumours of CAS’s death have been greatly exaggerated

Rumours are swirling around the decision (available in French here) of the Court of Appeal of Brussels in the case opposing RFC Seraing United to FIFA (as well as UEFA and the Belgian Football Federation, URSBFA) over the latter’s ban on third-party ownership. The headlines in various media are quite dramatic (see here and here), references are made to a new Bosman, or to a shaken sport’s legal system. Yet, after swiftly reading the decision for the first time on 29th August, I did not have, unlike with the Pechstein ruling of the Oberlandesgericht München, the immediate impression that this would be a major game-changer for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the role of arbitration in sports in general. After careful re-reading, I understand how certain parts of the ruling can be misunderstood or over-interpreted. I believe that much of the press coverage failed to accurately reflect the reasoning of the court and to capture the real impact of the decision. In order to explain why, I decided to write a short Q&A (including the (not water-proof) English translations of some of the key paragraphs of the decision).

 More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act V: Saving the last (Russian) woman standing: The Klishina miracle

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

The Russian Ballet at the CAS Ad Hoc Division in Rio - Act V: Saving the last (Russian) woman standing: The Klishina miracle

Editor's note: This is the (belated) fifth part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio. The other acts are available at:


Act V: Saving the last (Russian) woman standing: The Klishina miracle 

Darya Klishina is now an Olympic celebrity. She will enter the history books not because she won a gold medal or beat a world record. Instead, her idiosyncrasy lies in her nationality: she was the sole Russian athlete authorized to stand in the athletics competitions at the Rio Olympics. And yet, a few days before the start of the long jumping contest in which she was due to take part, the IAAF surprisingly decided to revoke her eligibility (‘And Then There Were None’). But Klishina appealed the decision to the CAS ad hoc Division and, as all of you well-informed sports lawyers will know, she was allowed to compete at the Olympics and finished at a decent ninth place of the long jump finals.

Two important questions are raised by this case:

  • Why did the IAAF changed its mind and decide to retract Klishina’s authorization to participate?
  • Why did the CAS overturn this decision?


A.    The IAAF’s second thoughts over the implication of Klishina

What happened between 9 July, when Klishina was first green lighted by the IAAF Doping Review Board (DRB) and 10 August when the DRB revoked its previous decision to let her compete? Basically, the publication of the McLaren Report, and especially evidence showing “that the Applicant had been directly affected and tainted by the State-organised doping scheme described in the IP Report”.[1] More concretely, according to the Report, Klishina was affected in the following three ways:

      i.   “a sample collected on 26 February 2014, yielding a T/E ratio of 8.5, had been subject to a "SAVE" order by the Ministry of Sport on 3 March 2014;

      ii.   a sample collected on 17 October 2014 and subsequently seized by WADA December 2014 was found to bear marks and scratches consistent with the removal of the cap and contained urine from the Applicant but also from another female athlete; and

      iii.  a sample collected on the occasion of the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow was also found to bear marks and scratches consistent with the removal of the cap.”[2]

In its original decision, the DRB had reserved its right “to reconsider the Applicant’s case should information ever be brought to its attention (including but not limited to as a result of the current investigation being conducted by Professor McLaren on behalf of WADA) that the Doping Review Board considers is such as to undermine the basis upon which the application was accepted”.[3] Thus, unsurprisingly, the CAS acknowledged that the DRB had the competence to reconsider the eligibility granted to the athlete. Nonetheless, surprisingly, it found that such reconsideration was not legitimate in light of the new information gathered.


B.    The surprising decision of CAS to let Klishina jump

Klishina won in front of the CAS. From the outset this is a surprising decision, since she was at least as implicated in the IP Report as numerous other Russian athletes who were barred from entering the Games.[4] Indeed, she had clearly profited from being “saved” by the Russian Ministry of Sport. So why on earth would the CAS decide to let her jump?

This decision is intimately linked with the legal basis of the original decision of the DRB. Despite the repeated view of the IOC that the IAAF policy was stricter than its own,[5] the Klishina case demonstrates that this is not universally true in practice. The main point was that the IAAF’s DRB had recognized that since 1 January 2014, Klishina “had been subject to fully compliant drug testing in- and out-of-competition”[6] and therefore fulfilled the criteria enshrined in the IAAF Competition rule 22.1A(b). This was based on the following factual findings:

  • “The fact that she had spent 632 days out of Russia, being 86.6% of her time, in the Relevant Period;
  • She had relocated permanently to the United States in March 2014 and had been trained under a US coach since October 2013;
  • She regularly competes in competitions on the international circuit;
  • A total of 11 samples had been collected from the Applicant outside of Russia in the Relevant Period;
  • 1 sample had been collected by the IAAF since June 2016 and sent for analysis by a laboratory outside of Russia.”[7]

The question is then whether the new information, indicating that Klishina was implicated and benefitted from the Russian doping scheme, recognized as valid by the Panel[8], could justify revisiting the first decision. In other words, could this new information lead to reconsidering the eligibility of Klishina under the regime of IAAF Competition rule 22.1A(b) on which the original decision was based? To assess this, the Panel starts by pointing out that the rule “is not the same as the decision of the IOC Executive Board made after the publication of the IP Report. (…) As the parties agreed, the IOC Executive Board decision is not in evidence in this case and decisions of the Ad hoc Panel of the CAS for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro as to the application of, or the terms of, the IOC Executive Board decision are not applicable”.[9]

The CAS Panel insists that the IAAF’s DRB “was comfortably satisfied that during the Relevant Period the Applicant satisfied each of the criteria set out in the Rule for exceptional eligibility, notwithstanding the suspension of the National Federation”.[10] Furthermore, “in making its findings, the DRB was aware of, and took no account of, tests conducted in Russia and that it was cognisant of inadequacies in the system of testing in Russia, for which RusAF had been suspended”.[11] Those are decisive conclusions that will lead to the second decision being set aside. The CAS Panel was of the view “that the conclusion reached in the Second Decision, and the basis for that decision, are not in accordance with the Rule which was purportedly invoked”.[12] It is so, because “the further evidence considered by the DRB for the purposes of the Second Decision did not undermine its finding in the First Decision that the Applicant was eligible to compete by reason of her compliance with the Rule”.[13] This analysis leads to an unfair solution as the undisputed evidence points at Klishina profiting not once but on three occasions from the Russian doping scheme and still this evidence is not considered as relevant to reconsider the IAAF’s original decision to let her jump.

This decision is grounded on the following legal reasoning: the Panel considers that the “implication [of Klishina in the State-doping system] is not relevant to the application of criteria which, if fulfilled, mean that for the purposes of the Rule [22 IAAF], the Applicant is not affected or tainted by the failures of the National Federation”.[14] The CAS Panel is of the view that the IAAF Rule “provides for a mechanism or a basis by which an athlete is granted exceptional eligibility”.[15] And this “mechanism is fulfilment of the two criteria which, for this athlete, was established by the DRB in the First Decision”.[16] Thus, the “fact that the athlete was subjected to or the subject of drug testing that was not fully compliant during the Relevant Period does not derogate from the fact that she was, during the Relevant Period (that is, ‘a sufficiently long period’), subject to fully compliant drug testing in- and out-of- competition by reason of the fact that she was during that time training in and resident in the United States and not in Russia”.[17] Additionally, “there is no evidence to suggest that the testing that she was subject to was other than equivalent in quality to the testing to which her competitors were subject”.[18] In other words, “an athlete may have undergone non-compliant testing while concurrently being subject to fully compliant testing and still fulfil the second criterion”.[19] This is comforted by the fact “that the Rule is addressed to the suspension of any International Federation for failure to put in place an adequate system and the impact on the eligibility of the athlete” and the “criteria are directed to the establishment by an athlete that he or she is outside the country of his or her National Federation during the Relevant Period”.[20] Hence, it “is not addressed to the implication of an athlete in a defective system”.[21] Instead, “it states that an athlete is taken not to be affected or tainted by the action of the National Federation if he or she was subject to other, compliant systems outside of the country”.[22] In a nutshell, for the CAS Panel, the “relevant question is not whether the athlete was affected by the Russian System, or how, or whether she had knowledge of the way in which the system worked”.[23] No, the only question is “whether she fulfilled the criteria of the Rule”.[24] And the answer to that question is: she did early July; and she still does in August!

This case is disconcerting as it contradicts the line of cases regarding the implication of athletes in the IP Report discussed a few days ago. The CAS relied on the ambiguous wording of the IAAF provision to offer an escape route to Klishina. In doing so, it disregarded the spirit and objective of the provision, which was to provide a mechanism for athletes who were not personally tainted by the Russian doping scandal to participate in IAAF competitions. Yet, another aspect of the case is even more bizarre. Why did the IOC not block the eligibility of Klishina on the basis of paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision? She was undoubtedly implicated and benefited from the scheme. In fact, only one of the three sources of implication provided by McLaren should (and would) have been enough for the IOC Review Panel and the CAS arbitrator reviewing her eligibility to discard her from the Olympics. It did not happen, Zeus only knows why…

 

Epilogue

These five blogs have discussed the awards rendered by the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio involving Russian athletes wishing to compete at the Olympics. In general, the CAS has been willing, with few exceptions (Efimova and Klishina), to approve the ineligibility of Russian athletes. Rightfully, in my view, the CAS has supported the IFs that have opted for a strict approach in dealing with the eligibility of Russian athletes for the Rio Olympics. The CAS has also unsurprisingly rebutted the blunt rule of the IOC excluding Russian athletes who were previously sanctioned for doping. But, it has surprisingly let Klishina jump, in spite of all the factual elements pointing at her being implicated in, and having profited from, the Russian State-doping scheme. Overall, the CAS ad hoc Division has served its purpose as a review instance well, forcing the IFs and the IOC to properly justify their decisions and providing an avenue for the Russian athletes to be heard.

These cases also highlight the variety/plurality of responses to the Russian doping scandal and its impact on the eligibility of Russian athletes for the Rio Olympics. It seems that some IFs have taken WADA’s call for a strong response of the SGBs seriously. Unfortunately, and this is one of the negative consequences of the IOC’s decision to not decide, due to a lack of information, it is impossible to assess the different policies of the IFs which have not faced (due to their reluctance to act or else) a challenge of their eligibility decisions in front of the CAS ad hoc Division. In light of recent revelations concerning the International Swimming Federation (FINA) it is likely that a number of IFs decided to interpret narrowly the IOC criteria and waved through the overwhelming majority of Russian athletes without a proper check.

Finally, the awards show that CAS arbitrators would have been ready to condone a general exclusion of Russian athletes, with a narrow exception for those not tainted by the scandal or who could not benefit from the scheme because they were residing outside of the Russian Federation (this is very much the position adopted in the recent decision of the CAS in the dispute between the Russian Paralympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee). The CAS recognized the seriousness of the situation and the collective responsibility of Russian sports organizations. It seemed also ready to follow up on this collective responsibility by endorsing collective sanctions that would most likely have been found compatible with the Russian athletes ‘natural rights’. Hence, ultimately, the IOC’s decision to let the Russian athletes compete at the Rio Olympics may have been politically unavoidable, but was certainly not legally mandated. I leave you to appreciate whether this decision is compatible with the IOC’s proclaimed fundamental values and its commitment to enforcing the World Anti-Doping Code. What is certain, however, is that the World Anti-Doping System needs an overhaul (for some reform proposals/directions see here) sooner rather than later.


[1] CAS OG 16/24 Darya Klishina v. IAAF, para. 2.12.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., para. 2.8.

[4] See Act II of this blog series.

[5] See CAS OG 16/13 Anastasia Karabelshikova and
Ivan Podshivalov v. 
World Rowing Federation (FISA)
and
International Olympic Committee (IOC), para. 7.14 and CAS OG 16/12 Ivan Balandin v. FISA & IOC, para. 7.22.

[6] CAS OG 16/24 Darya Klishina v. IAAF, para. 7.3.

[7] Ibid., para. 7.14.

[8] Ibid., paras 7.40-45.

[9] Ibid., para. 7.24.

[10] Ibid., para. 7.34.

[11] Ibid., para. 7.35.

[12] Ibid., para. 7.46.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid., para. 7.56.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid., para. 7.57.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid., para. 7.58.

[20] Ibid., para. 7.60.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

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